The National League West refuses to let the Dodgers go
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To the downtrodden, to those devoid of optimism, to all those who have witnessed the 2011 Dodgers and decided they’ll check back next season, hope is offered: a totally mediocre National League West.
That’s right, despite ownership chaos and injured players and an inept offense, the Dodgers entered Saturday night just six games out of first and with two-thirds of the season left.
The division refuses to let them go.
‘Considering how we’ve hit and how hurt we’ve been, to be six out -- that’s a gift,’ said general manager Ned Colletti.
If the Dodgers were in the N.L. East, they’d be 9 ½ back of the Phillies and battling the mighty Washington Nationals for last place.
But they are in the West, where the division-leading Giants just lost star catcher Buster Posey possibly for the season, and the Rockies have lost left-hander Jorge De La Rosa for the year.
No team has stepped up, taken control and left the others in its wake. The Rockies acted like they might when they started the season 11-2, but have gone 13-24 since. The world champion Giants (28-23) lead the West, but only by a half game over the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks.
‘To be where we’re at, as banged up as we’ve been, I think we’re fortunate to be where we are,’ Colletti said. ‘Sometimes you take the good fortune that you have and turn it into something even better. I still have a ton of confidence in where we’re at.’
His confidence is based on how well the starting pitching has performed (3.69 earned-run average) and how many Dodgers have spent time on the disabled list. Slowly, the injured are returning. Slowly, their thinking goes, they will work themselves back into the division race.
Either that, or stay where they are and let the division fall back to them.
‘It’s a matter of us just getting hot,’ said Manager Don Mattingly. ‘Getting a streak and putting something together. If you look at us and we put any kind of normal offense up, we’re winning two out of three. It’s the way we’ve pitched.
‘If this lineup was pretty much together the whole year, and we put any semblance of four runs a day, or close to it, we could be winning every series. I mean, our pitching has been tremendous.’
And if Frank McCourt hadn’t made a financial mess of the Dodgers, Major League Baseball didn’t suddenly have an office down the hall.
Mattingly actually takes hope from how the Giants won the division last season. The Giants were 40-39 on July 2, and then finished 52-31. Mattingly still views the Giants as the division favorite.
‘They have the same club they had last year,’ Mattingly said. ‘They struggled to put runs up last year. They were just like us early in the year last year. They’d get one run, one run. Then all of a sudden they caught a little streak. With that pitching, they caught a little offense, and it’s difficult.
‘They’re world champions. They got the pitching. They’re still together, and they seem to find a way. So I think they’re the club you have to look at.’
In the N.L. West, hope springs eternal. ‘If we get healthy, we got a shot,’ Colletti said.
-- Steve Dilbeck